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| 20 November, 2017

Iraqi Federal Court rules Kurdish referendum unconstitutional

Image used for illustrative purpose.
A Kurdish flag flutters in front of the Quru Gusik refugee camp on the outskirts of the city of Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region, October 8, 2013.

Image used for illustrative purpose. A Kurdish flag flutters in front of the Quru Gusik refugee camp on the outskirts of the city of Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region, October 8, 2013.

REUTERS/Yahya Ahmad

Kurds voted overwhelmingly to break away from Iraq in a referendum held on Sept. 25

BAGHDAD - Iraq's Supreme Federal Court ruled on Monday that a referendum held on Kurdish independence was unconstitutional and that the results of the vote were void, a court spokesman said.

Kurds voted overwhelmingly to break away from Iraq in a referendum held on Sept. 25, defying the central government in Baghdad as well as neighbouring Turkey and Iran who have their own Kurdish minorities.

The court is responsible for settling disputes between Iraq's central government and regions including Kurdistan. The verdict cannot be appealed.

"The Federal Court issued the decision to consider the Kurdish region's referendum unconstitutional and this ruling is final," the spokesman said. "The power of this ruling should now cancel all the results of the referendum."

The court had already ruled on Nov. 6 that no region or province can secede and the Kurdistan Regional Government said last week it would respect that verdict.

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Iraqi government forces and the Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces launched a surprise offensive on Oct. 16 in retaliation. Government forces managed to wrest back control of the oil city of Kirkuk and other disputed territories.

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Alison Williams) ((ahmed.aboulenein@thomsonreuters.com; +20 2 2394 8097; Reuters Messaging: ahmed.aboulenein.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))